Littleton Food Cooperative

The Littleton Food Cooperative opened in 2009 as a member-owned grocery store serving Littleton and the surrounding communities. Since its inception, the co-op’s mission has been to support local farmers and to encourage a healthy, sustainable, lifestyle in the North Country. The store offers a wide array of locally sourced produce, meats, dairy and prepared food, drawing in members from as far as 60 miles away. By 2016, the co-op had grown to 5,600 members and was fairly bursting at the seams. Its management team began planning an expansion.

Market case of fruit and produceThe obstacle

The co-op needed capital to fund the expansion and improvements, as well as refinance its real estate debt. The size and complexity of the project necessitated numerous funding partners, which eventually included a senior loan from Mascoma Savings Bank, a sub-debt loan from the Community Loan Fund, membership loans, and New Markets Tax Credits equity. The Community Loan Fund partnered with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Grafton County Economic Council on its sub-debt loan.

Why the Community Loan Fund made the loan

The Littleton Food Co-Op had shown strong business performance, with three years of better-than-8% growth. Its management team had a clear plan for how the expansion would better serve customers and improve profits. The co-op’s mission fit well with that of the Community Loan Fund’s Farm Food Initiative, which seeks to help New Hampshire farms and businesses meet the growing demand for locally produced food throughout the state.

The result

We made the loan and construction on the 9,500-square-foot expansion was completed in late summer 2017. It includes office and retail space that now features sections for gourmet cheeses and natural health and beauty products. Its expanded café hosts cooking classes, tastings, and seminars. The energy-efficiency upgrades include LED lighting and more refrigerators. These additions will help ensure that the co-op remains a thriving health and food resource for North Country residents for many years to come.

Links

Littleton Food Cooperative website

Annual report article: Consumers, farmers, producers benefit from food co-op's expansion